Call to Order and Roll Call
The3rd meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Economic Development and Tourism was held on Thursday, August 18, 2011, at 9:15 AM CDT, at the Community Financial Services Bank (CFSB) Center, Murray State University. Representative Leslie Combs, co-chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Representative Leslie Combs, Co-Chair; Senators Jared Carpenter, Ernie Harris, Jack Westwood, and Ken Winters; Representatives John "Bam" Carney, Myron Dossett, Ted Edmonds, Jim Gooch Jr., Mike Harmon, Melvin B. Henley, Wade Hurt, Kim King, Adam Koenig, Donna Mayfield, Terry Mills, Fred Nesler, John Short, Wilson Stone, and Jill York.
Guests: Murray State University: Dr. Randy Dunn, President; Loretta Daniel, Regional Business and Innovation Center; Dr. James Gantt, Director, Center for Telecommunications System Management (TSM), Dr. Fred Miller, Hutchens Distinguished Professor of Marketing, TSM, and Dr. Mike Bowman, Associate Professor, TSM; Henry Snorton, Founder, Mission Vision Partner Consulting; Stan Eckenberg, President and Chief Operating Officer, Computer Services, Inc.; and James Stokes, Controller, West Kentucky and Tennessee Telecommunications Cooperative.
Legislative Guests: Representative John Will Stacy.
Murray State University
University President Dr. Randy Dunn said the Telecommunications System Management (TSM) program, created a result of 1997 higher education reform, is MSUís program of distinction. The TSM program is part of two collegesóthe College of Science, Engineering, and Technology and the College of Business. Graduates of the program are employable in a wide range of areas.
While the TSM program is in the forefront, every initiative at MSU strives for excellence. He noted that for the past 20 years, MSU has been ranked a regional top-tier school according US News and World Report and was voted as one of Forbes Americaís Best Colleges among Kentuckyís public universities. He said public universities should strive to create a better quality of life for the regions they serve.
Dr. Dunn said the universityís state-of-the-art science campus has been 15 years in the making and MSUís top capital request is an engineering-physics facility. Other capital requests include a new library and an agriculture center to be built on donated land.
Dr. Dunn noted the university is in its final year of fund raising and in 2012 will celebrate reaching its $60 million goal. Approximately $30 million is designated toward scholarships.
Small and Minority Business
Henry Snorton, Mission Vision Partner Consulting, suggested ways the Commonwealth can help small and minority businesses. He said that while the Cabinet for Economic Developmentís 1997 strategic plan was helpful, there is still room for improvement. The state should be more proactive in promoting small and minority business. Recommendations included creation of a state regional office in western Kentucky, holding a statewide economic development summit, and increased emphasis on exporting Kentucky products. He said the state should make entrepreneurship and innovation more accessible and improve funding for minority businesses.
Regional Business and Innovation Center, Murray State University
Loretta Daniel, Director of the Regional Business and Innovation Center, explained that the centerís purpose is to help build successful businesses with a focus on technology and innovation. To date, the center has assisted over 300 clients and helped obtain over $29 million in capital through state and federal grants and private investments. This has added 458 new jobs in the area and client-generated revenue of over $116 million. Ms. Daniel said the center is part of the Kentucky Innovation and Commercialization Center Program, which has helped to create 866 new companies in Kentucky, raise $554 million in capital, and 4,740 new jobs, generating $2.2 billion in revenue. Ms. Daniel listed several companies helped through the program. She said not only does the center works to increase understanding of innovation and entrepreneurship, but it also provides support services including regional outreach initiatives and access to entrepreneurial resources. The center has three key industry initiatives: West Kentucky AgBioworks, Professional Organization for Information and Network Technology (POINT), and Make It Kentucky. There is a small business incubator at the center and they provide access to service providers and access to university resources that assist entrepreneurs.
Telecommunications System Management, Murray State University
Dr. James Gantt, Director of the Center for Telecommunications System Management (TSM), explained the program. He said the combination of business, telecommunications, and information technology training creates graduates unique in their field. Students can complete core requirements through the community college system and complete the TSM program online. Dr. Gantt said industry helps support the program through scholarships, internships, and employment. Outreach programs include the CyberCave, which is a high school recruiting tool, the Cyber Academy, which is a week long program where college students teach high school students about technology, and Networks-to-Go, which is a portable equipment student outreach program. Dr. Gantt said as a member of several associations and the winner of multiple awards including the International Telecommunications Education and Research Associationís 2007 Undergraduate program of the year, the TSM program has had 12 years of excellence.
Dr. Fred Miller, Hutchens Distinguished Professor of Marketing, explained the research methods of data collection for the stateís broadband mapping project. Areas of interest included speed and availability, demographic profiles, and accuracy of information reported. Dr. Miller said the material and profiles were provided by Business GIS software that was purchased for the project and currently available in the center for other commercial uses. He added that the software is very useful in providing geographic information for economic development and tourism. Dr. Miller said the conclusions of the survey were: the state broadband map was accurate but less so for each of the providers, there were some speed issues in areas claiming broadband availability, there were discrepancies in profiles of coverage in rural areas, and mobile wireless showed some discrepancy in speeds reported by consumers and speeds providers reported. He said the federal broadband map reported that Kentucky had lower coverage than actually existed due to one service provider not participating in the survey.
Responding to Representative Carneyís question, Dr. Miller suggested reviewing the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) national broadband map to compare accuracy of broadband speeds. Representative Carney said some constituents have reported not having service when they should have based on service providers.
Representative Henley added that high speed service is also important in economic development. He said the issue of high speed telecommunications is a main topic raised by potential industries.
Emergency Communications Research and Undergraduate Security Research
Dr. Mike Bowman, Associate Professor of Marketing, explained the development of the Man-Portable Interoperable Tactical Operations Center (MITOC). In 2005, MSU, in conjunction with the University of Louisville and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, set out to develop military-style command posts for emergency response. The project integrated existing technologies to be used by first responders. MITOC provided the only area communications during the 2009 ice storm and has been used during other disasters. Dr. Bowman said the goals of the MITOC project are affordability, ease of operation, and commercial viability. The current mobile unit sells for approximately $10,000, which is within the budget range for rural communities. Each unitís range of usage is based on electricity, network, and cellular service availability. MSU is currently working on ResponderLink software that allows radio transmissions over the internet as well as Incident Management Decision Support System (IMDSS) and IMDSS-Health incident management software for healthcare related information such as hospital bed availability.
Dr. Bowman said MSUís network security program has been successful. He mentioned a TSM research project analyzing Wi-Fi security at public terminals that won a fellowship award. The study examined the extensive personal data, including items like tax returns and banking information, left behind at public terminals.
Multi-State Telecommunications Summit
Dr. Gantt outlined the upcoming multi-state telecommunications summit. Developed by the Chair of the Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC), PSC leaders from Tennessee, West Virginia, and Indiana will discuss changes in technology and consumers impact regulations. National speakers will be featured.
Dr. Gantt introduced the next two speakers who were representative of businesses hiring TSM graduates.
Stan Eckenberg, President and Chief Operating Officer of Computer Services, Inc. (CSI) of Paducah, provided a company outline. Founded in 1965, CSI, a financial services software company, has over 1,000 employees, $165 million in revenue, and 21 offices nationally. Mr. Eckenberg said CSI provides banking information technology (IT) services as well as IT services to companies like Travelocity and Google. CSI has a critical need for employees who can build and manage financial networks. Graduates of the TSM program are a tremendous asset to CSI, which has employed 17 graduates thus far. He said the TSM program is unique in offering a Masters program as well as combining business studies with telecommunications training. Mr. Eckenberg said telecommunications is the future of business growth.
Mr. James Stokes, Controller of West Kentucky and Tennessee Telecommunications Cooperative (WK&T), said the cooperative currently has 15,000 subscribers to their local and long distance telephone service, high speed internet, and digital television services. WK&T also provides security services for homes and businesses. In 2009, through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, WK&T was awarded a loan of $123.8 million to provide fiber optics to the homes of all subscribers. Mr. Stokes said the Cooperative funds three scholarships annually to the TSM program and employs TSM interns. WK&T encourages and assists employees and interns financially in completing the TSM program.
Senator Winters said MSUís TSM program is a program of distinction and noted the economic impact it has in the area and across the commonwealth.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 11:45 CDT.